​How Much Should I Settle for a Car Accident?

In a car accident, the parties involved may agree on a settlement amount to cover the costs of injuries and damage to property. They may accomplish this before trial in a pretrial settlement, or it can occur during the middle of a trial. In general, the amount you should settle for after a car accident can vary based on the severity of your injuries or even the other party’s finances.

A pretrial settlement happens when the parties in a lawsuit agree to work out compensation for injuries and damages before trial. A settlement is reached instead of taking the case to court and going through the trial procedure. An out-of-court settlement can sometimes take place with a mediator present.

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Car Accident Settlements – What Are They?

In a car accident settlement, the responsible party agrees to pay the victim a specific amount of money. They pay this money to make up for the damages they caused.

Generally, most people regard settlements favorably since they save the parties time and money. Instead of spending multiple weeks or months going through court, the parties can agree on a settlement and move on. For a settlement to be successful, the parties must be willing to work together.

The amount you should settle for after a car accident varies. At the very least, you’ll want a car accident settlement to cover your damages. Your damages can include property damage to your vehicle. They can also include time missed from work due to injury, medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of future earning potential, etc. Do not settle your claim unless your attorney feels the other party is offering you a fair offer.

Some say that a settlement for 80 percent of what you are asking for is a reasonable offer, especially considering insurance companies will try to pay you as little as possible. It is often best to reject the first offer the insurance company makes and instead negotiate. Do not try to bargain with an insurance company without an attorney’s help, and do not disclose any information without your lawyer present.

What Are Car Accident Settlement Payments?

What Will Happen if the Other Party Does Not Expend the Settlement Payments?

Courts can distribute settlements from car accidents in two ways. With a structured settlement, the defendant makes payments in regular installments. Structured settlements allow plaintiffs to avoid the tax consequences of receiving large sums of money all at once. Sometimes we call structured settlements annuity payment plans.

Alternatively, a car accident settlement payout can occur when the plaintiff accepts the cash in a lump sum. The payment is called a settlement cash payment. The individual is entitled to receive the settlement cash payout without delay. Even so, obtaining a significant sum of cash all at once may come with substantial tax consequences.

An essential disadvantage of structured settlements or annuities is that the paying party may cease making payments if they go bankrupt or simply refuse to pay, despite legally binding agreements. Because of this, some individuals prefer to obtain a car accident settlement payout to ensure that they will not face any problems in the future regarding collecting what the defendant owes them. Tax results may be worth it, depending on the case.

Occasionally, the court may take other steps to ensure that the defendant pays the amount if the defendant cannot make the full lump sum payment. The court may put a lien on the individual’s property and sell it to satisfy the payment amount, as an example.

How Can I Get a Fair Settlement?

A fundamental understanding of the purpose of a settlement is essential. The law intends for settlements to allow both parties to avoid a trial if they can. The plaintiff foregoes their right to a trial in exchange for money.

To begin negotiating a settlement, both parties must understand what they want. The parties will likely need an attorney or a mediator.

Discuss the following points with your lawyer about the settlement:

  • What your chances are at trial, and whether a lawsuit is necessary;
  • How much do you believe your case is worth in terms of dollars;
  • Discuss the lowest settlement amount you are willing to accept or pay
  • Settlement amounts and results from comparable earlier cases;
  • The strengths and weaknesses of both the opponent’s and your case evidence;
  • Availability of insurance coverage and economic resources for the opposing party;
  • Do not settle before discussing any settlement payments’ impact on related matters, such as lawyer’s fees and tax developments;
  • Determine whether any other remedies are required if you are the plaintiff in the accident before settling.

What Else Should I Know About Car Accident Settlements?

When deciding how much to settle for, know that it can be beneficial to settle a car accident without going to trial.

Among the most significant advantages are:

  • Fewer Expenses: A trial can be costly for both parties. In addition to lawyer’s fees, consider other costs, such as court fees. You can avoid that by settling outside of court.
  • Less Stress: Although many court trials do not last more than a few days, the procedure can be stressful. With a pretrial settlement, cross-examination, expert witness testimony, and other steps that define a trial procedure will not be necessary. Additionally, a settlement avoids the need to appear in court, which is nerve-wracking;
  • Damage Awards Are Inconsistent: The jury awards the damages when you go to trial, and there is no negotiation opportunity for either party. The plaintiff may recover less at trial than they would have received at a pretrial settlement. It may be in the plaintiff’s best interest to have fewer individuals involved when they are deciding how much of an award they will receive;
  • Less Time Expended on Appeals: If the defendant chooses to appeal the case’s outcome, it may take more than a year to finish the total procedure.
  • Increased Privacy: Settlements are confidential, whereas court trials are not. A court trial’s components are public records. Parties who wish to maintain a high level of privacy should settle rather than go to trial.

If they choose to settle, a plaintiff can accept their award depending on when the settlement agreement occurred. In most cases, payments occur within 20 or 30 days of the parties reaching the pretrial settlement agreement. Typically, the settlement agreement specifies when the defendant must pay the agreed-upon amount.

In the settlement agreement, the plaintiff may establish whether they will add interest to the initial amount owed if the defendant does not pay within the time the agreement specified.

How Are Car Accident Settlements Calculated?

A case that goes to trial can be costly for all parties involved. Due to the difficulty in assessing your claim’s value, assigning it a value can be difficult.

Settlements are an excellent way to avoid the tensions of a trial. Insurance companies typically determine the value of claims based on several factors before trial in car accident cases.

How Do Insurance Companies Value Car Accident Cases?

Every year, thousands of car accidents occur in the U.S., resulting in insurance claims against different companies. Because insurance companies have responded to claims for decades, they have accumulated substantial data from these crashes and payouts, which they can use to develop criteria for resolving future cases.

While the facts of each case ultimately determine claims, there is some predictability in the data that insurance companies use to assess your claim’s value.

They use a formula that considers your specific damages (economic loss) and general damages. Then, the insurance company multiplies a specific numerical element based on their statistics by the loss. Therefore, you can only convey a small part of what the insurance company may eventually evaluate your claim to be worth.

Car Accidents Often Lead to Claims for Damages. What Are Some of the Most Common Ones?

In car wreck cases, the types of damages are fairly standard. Typical damages include special damages, which cover medical costs, and general damages, which cover emotional distress and pain and suffering.

Some of these non-specific damages are particularly difficult to quantify, making it difficult for you to establish your claim. When determining how much to pay you, insurance companies will consider this.

Car Crash Special Damages: What Are They?

Special damages, also called economic damages, are the plaintiff’s actual out-of-pocket expenses. You can quantify and document tangible damages. Special damages include medical expenses and lost wages.

Car Crash General Damages: What Are They?

In disparity to special damages, general damages are not so readily quantified and verified. In essence, they include claims for pain and suffering, emotional distress, future medical care, disfigurement, and loss of consortium.

After a Car Accident, How Do You Determine Medical Costs?

You can get damages for exact medical bills relating to reasonably incurred expenses for treatment associated with a defendant’s negligence in a car crash. To prove your legitimate medical expenses, you should present your medical bills.

An expert witness can attest to the reasonableness of the medical expenses and the fact that the treatment was related to the car accident. You should not settle your claim unless the settlement pays for your medical expenses.

How Do Multipliers Work in a Car Accident Case?

The insurance company has chosen your specific losses based on your supporting documentation. To determine the absolute value of your claim, they will multiply this number by a specific numerical factor.

The insurance company will evaluate no absolute elements when determining the size of the multiplier. Courts evaluate each claim individually.

However, the following characteristics are standard characteristics:

  • What is the total amount of your medical bills?
  • Did the medical treatment prove necessary?
  • Did you pursue treatment for a condition pre-existing the crash?
  • Did you seek long-term treatment for your injuries?
  • Did your actions contribute to the crash?

Remember that each claim’s facts and circumstances will determine how the insurance company calculates your claim’s value.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Car Accident Settlement Claim?

After a car accident, dealing with an insurance company can be very stressful. However, circumstances might complicate the situation if you try to guide the situation on your own.

A local personal injury lawyer may help you comprehend your rights if you have suffered an injury in a car accident. A lawyer can also help you determine how much money to settle for and whether the offer made by the other side is good.

Since the amount you should settle for will depend on the facts of your case, you will almost always need an attorney to negotiate your settlement. Further, choosing a payout vs. annuities can occasionally be a challenging selection to make.

You should consult a local car accident attorney if you need legal advice on determining whether a settlement offer is reasonable. Local lawyers will be the best judges of a reasonable settlement, how local laws may apply in your state that can affect the outcome of your case, and the rules governing settlements differ from state to state.

With the help of a professional and knowledgeable lawyer, you can protect your legal rights in court and out of court. Hiring a lawyer ensures that you are well-prepared when entering a settlement and that the settlement is fair. Contact an experienced local lawyer who can represent you in court if settlement attempts fail.

July 5, 2022
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“Boohoff Law definitely stands behind integrity. Tatiana is not only a fantastic attorney in her expertise, she’s also down-to-earth – truly a people person.”
– Elissa M.

“Really pleased with Boohoff Law! Received immediate responses when I had any questions. Treated amazingly by all staff … made this process a true breeze!”

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“Everyone here is so helpful. They jumped through every hoop necessary to get me the settlement I rightfully deserved. They made me feel right at home.”
– Brandy K.

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“Really pleased with Boohoff Law! Received immediate responses when I had any questions. Treated amazingly by all staff … made this process a true breeze!”
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